Thursday, December 5, 2019

CNBC explains how the yield curve predicted every recession for the past 50 years


It's time to revisit the yield curve, "the chart that predicts recessions."
Ever since I wrote The tax bill and the U.S. economy in 2018 and beyond at the end of 2017, I've been watching the yield curve invert.  In all five entries, I noted that an inverted yield curve predicts recessions.  However, I didn't explain how and why that works.
Three months ago, Vox did that for me.  Today, it's CNBC's turn with How The Yield Curve Predicted Every Recession For The Past 50 Years.

The yield curve was once just a wonky graph for academics and policymakers. But in recent years it has become a way to forecast looming recessions. The curve has helped predict every recession over the past 50 years. That means the curve accurately predicted even largely unforeseen downturns like the dot-com bubble of 2001 and the Great Recession in 2007.

As a result, news of yield curve inversions can now send markets tumbling. Policymakers keep a close eye on even small changes in the curve’s composition.

So how did this simple graph showing U.S. Treasury bond interest rates grow into one of the most reliable recession indicators we have? And what does a yield curve inversion really mean?
While it's possible that "it's different this time," I doubt it.  I still think the inverted yield curve earlier this year signals an oncoming recession.  However, I no longer have confidence in my prediction of when that will happen.
"I've been bearish and on recession watch since December 2017 and still stand behind the prediction I made in Ten years ago, we were partying like it was 1929. Are we about to do it again?...'I'm moving my recession call to between July and December 2019.'"  If that happens, it will be closer to December than July, which is only a month away, but I will not revise my forecast until October at the earliest.  I'm even more confident that a recession is coming, even if it takes a bit longer than I expect.
The U.S. is not currently in recession and I'm 99% confident that it will not enter one by the end of the year.  The Federal Reserve has managed to forestall it through interest rate cuts before any recession could begin.  Clever of them.  However, that's not going to work forever.  Therefore, I'm kicking my forecast six months down the road with the next recession starting during the first half of 2020 and more likely during the second quarter than the first.  That would mean any annoucement of it starting would be within a month before the election.  Perfect timing.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Kamala Harris heading home came as a complete surprise


In the same comment to Au revoir Tim Ryan as Ohio Representative retires from race that I quoted in Sestak sinks and Bullock bows out as both drop out, I made predictions about when I expected the second-tier candidates would drop out.
I don't think Kamala Harris is leaving until after she faceplants in Iowa. Also, as much as you might dislike Mayor Pete, who tacked left and then back to the center, he's essentially tied with Harris nationwide and well ahead of her in Iowa. He also has a lot of money behind him. I think he'll be in the contest until Super Tuesday, at least. Booker should last until South Carolina and Klobuchar until New Hampshire.
This was in response to Nebris making his wishes known.
I suspect Harris is next. She shut all her offices in New Hampshire and is going all in on Iowa. I expect her to eat shit there and that will be that.
While I was right that Steve Bullock was one of the next two to leave, both Nebris and I were wrong that Harris would last until Iowa, although Nebris was closer to reality when he thought she would be "next."  As CBS News reported yesterday, Senator Kamala Harris drops out of 2020 presidential race.

CBSN political reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns joins CBSN's "Red & Blue" to discuss Senator Kamala Harris ending her presidential bid and its impact on the 2020 Democratic race.
Despite all the reporting from Politico and the New York Times about disarray in Harris's campaign, she had qualified for the December debate.  I fully expected her to be on the stage.  That's not going to happen, much to my surprise.  So far, candidates who qualified for debates have continued their campaigns.

I wasn't the only one surprised by Harris's decision.  FiveThirtyEight had the same reaction in their emergency Politics Podcast Harris Drops Out.

The crew reacts to Sen. Kamala Harris's decision to drop out of the Democratic primary.
Despite the short time between the announcement and the recording, the four panelists managed a fairly comprehensive analysis of the situation, especially since they were able to build on what Harris should be thankful for — not much other than the support of her husband.  Now that she's dropped out, she can be thankful for all the supportive statements from her fellow candidates included in the CBS News clip I embedded above.  That's small consolation for her being the most major candidate to have dropped out so far.

As I have done with all the other candidates to have left the campaign, I will retire all of her recipes and memes.  Follow over the jump.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Show your support for democracy by donating $10 for 10 years of Coffee Party USA on Giving Tuesday


Happy Giving Tuesday!
National Day of Giving encourages giving back. It takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
...
Quite simply, take advantage of all the holiday deals to add to your charitable giving. Combined with your family, friends, local and national organizations and through the power of social media, Day of Giving can become a tradition worth passing on.
My tradition for the day, which I began On Giving Tuesday 2017 and continued last year, is to donate to my favorite non-profit, Coffee Party USA.  I am a director and officer of the organization and I just donated $10.00 to it for Giving Tuesday.  In addition, I'm asking my readers to match my donation.

As for what my donation and yours will do for Coffee Party USA, our supporters, and our country, I'm going to be a good environmentalist and recycle what I wrote originally in Happy National Coffee Ice Cream Day from Coffee Party USA! and reused in Celebrate National Coffee Day 2019 by donating to Coffee Party USA.
Coffee Party USA ia a 501c(4) nonprofit social welfare organization dedicated to empowering and connecting communities to reclaim our government for the people.  To support its efforts, which include educating the public on our website and on our Facebook page, registering people to vote with our partners TurboVote and National Voter Registration Day, and reminding them to vote through our Voter Buddy program, please consider donating.  A donation of $10.00 for ten years of Coffee Party USA is recommended.  For those who wish to give at a higher level of support and be more involved in the organization, please consider becoming a member.  To do the valuable work of the Coffee Party, as well as vote for future Golden Coffee Cup nominees and winners, volunteer.  Not only will Coffee Party USA thank you for it, so will the country!
Thanks for donating.  Now treat yourself.  Since tomorrow is National Cookie Day, I recommend a cookie.


Originally posted at Coffee Party USA.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Sestak sinks and Bullock bows out as both drop out


I wrote "Now to see if my pick of Julian Castro drops out before or after Steve Bullock and Michael Bennet.  My readers and I should find out shortly after the November 13 deadline for the next debate" just above the jump cut in Bye-bye Beto as O'Rourke drops out.  I repeated my prediction in the comments to Au revoir Tim Ryan as Ohio Representative retires from race.  "As for who's next, I still think it will be one of Bennet, Bullock, or Castro.  At least one of them will drop out after they fail to make the next debate."  I was close but not correct, as Joe Sestak suspended his campaign before any of them.  All was not lost, as Steve Bullock dropped out this morning.  Newsy reported on both candidates leaving the contest in Two Democratic presidential candidates drop out.

Former U.S. representative from Pennsylvania Joe Sestak and Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana have announced they are withdrawing from the race.
WMUR in New Hampshire covered both candidates leaving and looked ahead to the future in More candidates could drop out after departures of Bullock, Sestak.

The field of Democratic candidates seeking the White House has narrowed, with two candidates dropping out of the race.
Neither FiveThirtyEight nor I picked Sestak as one of the first nine to drop out, but they picked Bullock to do so and they keep looking good, as only Michael Bennet, who was the last one picked in FiveThirtyEight's dropout draft, remains.  Eight down, one to go from the dropout draft.

Even so, FiveThirtyEight still lists 16 major Democratic candidates running, the number before Bloomberg and Patrick entered the Democratic nomination contest at the last minute.


As I have with all the rest of the candidates who have fallen in this cycle's version of the Hungry For Power Games, I'm quoting the relevant passage from that article.
nrakich: OK, I’m going to go with the easy pick, then (thanks, Geoffrey!): Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

sarahf: Ahh!! Stole my pick.

nrakich: Bullock will continue to face a lot of pressure from party elders (and even in his Twitter replies!) to switch to the Senate race.

He’s similar to Hickenlooper in that regard, although frankly I think Democrats’ chances in Colorado’s Senate race don’t change that much if they nominate Hickenlooper vs. someone else. Whereas in Montana, Bullock is legitimately the only candidate who can probably put that Senate seat in play.

Now, like Hickenlooper, Bullock has denied any interest in the Senate.

But maybe, if he doesn’t make the September or October debates, that will change.

He is term-limited as governor, so the alternative is basically to go home and retire.

geoffrey.skelley: But unlike Hickenlooper, Bullock would probably enter a Senate general election in Montana as a clear underdog against Republican Sen. Steve Daines. The state did reelect Democratic Sen. Jon Tester last year, but Tester was an incumbent and it was a favorable environment for a Democrat. And even still, it was close! Bullock probably wouldn’t have as favorable as national environment working in his favor.
Here's hoping Bullock runs for Senate, just like John Hickenlooper.

Follow over the jump for the drink suggestions and memes I'm retiring now that both men have dropped out.

The future of malls for Cyber Monday, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse


Happy Cyber Monday!  I'm going to celebrate today counter-intuitively by looking at brick-and-mortar retail.  Watch the future of the American mall from CBS This Morning.

Almost 1,700 stores inside malls closed in 2018, according to Bank of America, and so far this year, closings have reached more than 4,000. But one company believes it has found a way to reverse the trend. The enormous American Dream mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey, will have a lot more than just stores behind its walls when it fully opens next year. Nikki Battiste reports.
This report displays some skepticism, which is appropriate given what I wrote in Wired on dead malls, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse, Business Insider on dead malls in the Retail Apocalypse with assistance from Dan Bell and Radiohead, and Vox on America's dying malls as failed third spaces, which was the entry that got me started on covering the Retail Apocalypse as an overarching phenomenon instead of the just the failure of my local mall.  Still, I wish the investors luck and success.  I hope they manage to buck the trend.

Stay tuned for Giving Tuesday.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

PBS Digital's Hot Mess asks if climate fiction can save the planet


While I was writing Vox explains how thawing permafrost is already releasing dangerous diseases and looking at all the examples of science fiction media in which a disease is released from climate change ("Interstellar," "The Last Ship," "Fortitude," "A Plague Tale : Innocence," and "Resident Evil."), I was thinking about a video from Hot Mess that came out at beginning of October, Can These Books Save The Planet? The Rise of Climate Fiction feat. Lindsay Ellis & Amy Brady.

Climate Fiction comes in all sorts of forms, there’s your Mad Maxes, your Games of Thrones, your Parables of the Sowers, and your WALL-Es. But are all these Cli-Fi books, movies, and TV shows just capitalizing on a hot topic, or do they actually change people’s perceptions of climate change? Lindsay Ellis, of It’s Lit, and Amy Brady, the editor-in-chief of The Chicago Review of Books, help us find out.
On the one hand, I'm glad science fiction writers are examining the topic of climate in books and other media.  I'm one of them, albeit in non-fiction reviews of climate fiction and other "eco-horror, such as the worst eco-horror films early in the decade about to end and more recently in Polygon explains how climate change is changing horror.  On the other hand, science fiction addressing current anxieties may make people more aware, but it may not actually make them do anything about it.

That's not all bad, as awareness is still the first step in environmental literacy.  Action is the last one.  The intermediate steps are knowledge, attitudes, and skills.  For the past eight-and-one-half years, I've been working on the first three steps with myself and my readers, something I alluded to last year in A reminder of why I write this blog.
"I have been advocating for all aspects of sustainability, viable natural environments, nurturing communities, and sufficient economies, on my blog Crazy Eddie's Motie News since 2011.  There, I educate my readers on these topics and hope to inspire them to work for an equitable social environment, sustainable economic development, and a sustainable natural and built environment."  I also "discuss politics, science, technology, the environment, education, and entertainment."
Here's to my continuing to increase my readers' awareness, knowledge, and attitude about the environment, whether through fact or fiction.

That's it for the Sunday entertainment feature.  Stay tuned for Cyber Monday.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

WDIV and WXYZ celebrate Small Business Saturday in Metro Detroit


Once again, Happy Small Business Saturday, a day I've been observing since 2011, the first year of this blog!  As I wrote earlier today in Shop Small as Seth Meyers, the Small Business Adminstration, and Yahoo! Finance all celebrate the 10th Small Business Saturday, "I'm not done with Small Business Saturday.  Stay tuned for an entry about local businesses here in Metro Detroit."  WDIV provides an excellent overview of the National Day in Small Business Saturday: Where to shop local around Metro Detroit.

Small Business Saturday was an idea created by the credit card giant American Express in 2010. The campaign was launched in order to help small businesses gain additional exposure and to change the way consumers shop within their own community during the holiday season.
That's the big picture here in southeast Michigan.  For a series of close-ups, follow over the jump as WXYZ invites local businesses into their studio and also goes on location.

Shop Small as Seth Meyers, the Small Business Adminstration, and Yahoo! Finance all celebrate the 10th Small Business Saturday

Happy Small Business Saturday, a day I've been observing since 2011, the first year of this blog!  For this year's celebration, I begin with Seth [Meyers] and Amber [Ruffin] Celebrate Small Business Saturday in Partnership with American Express.

Late Night with Seth Meyers in partnership with American Express celebrates the 10th annual Small Business Saturday.
That was just as funny as a live promotional spot could be.  For a more serious and informative clip, I present the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)'s Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday, two days after Thanksgiving, is a day to celebrate small businesses and all they do for communities across America. Support your local entrepreneurs by shopping and dining at a small business.
Since this is a National Day created by American Express, I'm giving it a more direct voice through one of its vice presidents being interviewed by Yahoo! Finance in Local economy sees big impact from Small Business Saturday.

Andy Goldberg, SVP, Global Brand Planning & Content at American Express discusses opportunities like Small Business Saturday to help small businesses thrive.
One of the types of business both the SBA and American Express is promoting is restaurants, particularly coffee shops.  On that note, I'm sharing American Express's Support Local Coffee Shops.

Want to know how to support local businesses this Small Business Saturday 2019? Stop by your favorite neighborhood coffee shops and get energized to support all the great small businesses in your community.
I couldn't resist this ad, especially since I'm an officer of Coffee Party USA and plan on sharing this post at their Facebook page.

I'm not done with Small Business Saturday.  Stay tuned for an entry about local businesses here in Metro Detroit.

Friday, November 29, 2019

The death and rebirth of Toys R Us, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse for Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day


Happy Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day!  Last year, I covered the Retail Apocalypse by focusing on Macy's and Bon-Ton.  This year, I continue with the tradition by re-examining the death and rebirth of Toys R Us, one of the first two chains I followed in covering the decline of brick-and-mortar retailers.  I begin with Wall Street Journal's How Toys 'R' Us Went Bankrupt, which concludes with the chains rebirth under new ownership.

For decades, Toys "R" Us was not only one of the top toy retailers in the United States, it was one of the top retailers period. Until it suddenly wasn’t. Toys “R” filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and liquidated six months later. This is the story of how Toys "R" Us went bankrupt.
The part about the private equity firm that secured their loans to Toys R Us's intellectual property, including Geoffrey the Giraffe, was a new facet of the story to me.  It ties into what I wrote in June about the revival of the name.
Toys R Us is like TwinkiesThe products are too valuable and someone will make them.
Companies will do so even if it involves killing off the original company and stripping the carcass.  To paraphrase Steve Martin, capitalism is not pretty.

Follow over the jump for two videos about the opening of the first Toys R Us store under Tru Kids, the new ownership.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

FiveThirtyEight asks what the Democratic candidates should be thankful for


Happy Thanksgiving!  I'm going to be more serious than usual this year; no balloons and marching bands today, although I won't be able to resist pie drinks for Thanksgiving.  I have to uphold at least one of my traditions.

For a serious take on the holiday, I'm sharing FiveThirtyEight asking What Should Each Candidate Be Thankful For?

The podcast crew play a Thanksgiving-themed game in which they try to guess what the candidates in the Democratic primary are thankful for.
I tend to agree with all of the panel's answers about what their top seven Democratic candidates should be thankful for.  On the other hand, if I were Amy Klobuchar, I'd be annoyed at being left out for Michael Bloomberg.  Even Cory Booker got a mention.  Hmph!

Follow over the jump for a pair of drinks from Tipsy Bartender, as I uphold one of my holiday traditions.